Saturday, February 28, 2009

we made it!

The long train ride is over... we will be here in Kiev until we get our Russian visas renewed. We hear it can take up to 10 days.

Spencer gets back from Moldova on the 5th so we should get to see him while we are here!!

I will have to write more later once I recover from spending 23 hours on the train!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A MOPS Morning

Today we shared our entire time with the children. After singing a few action songs, led by Alyona, we had tea together and then dove into our craft time.

We made cards for International Women's Day, March 8th. If you are not familiar with that holiday you can read about it here:

It was a treat to see kids and moms spending time together. After craft time we watched a short video of a cooking show with recipes specific for a Women's Day dinner.

We had 5 moms, 4 kids and one childcare worker with us. One of the moms, who was with us for the second time today, is from the neighborhood and does not actively attend a church. However, our MOPS mornings are a perfect fit for her... she was the first mom to arrive!!

Today a group of us are going over to visit one of our moms who just gave birth to her second child. Families or friends of the patients normally provide all of the food for the person in the hospital... so we are meeting over at the market to decide what food to take to her. I always feel bad when going to visit a new mom here. We will not be allowed up on the floor with her. She will have to come down from whatever floor she is on to see us!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Thought for Today

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lesson Plans

I typed up a very detailed lesson plan, packed my bag and took off for my job teaching Business English at a personnel agency. After arriving early to set up my classroom I discovered that I didn't have the audio portion of the lesson.

So, on to Plan B. I had copies of an article on the Fast Moving Consumer Products industry that I had planned to use a time filler. And I decided that the homework I intended to assign could be done in class.

We started off with the warm up discussion questions that I had prepared. Then Plan B was quickly set aside in favor of an animated discussion of the financial crisis, and new governmental policies related to solving the financial problems for the elite while ignoring the social injustices faced by the elderly and disabled. It was exhilarating to hear them speaking so eloquently on such difficult topics. They only needed minimal corrections and gentle prompting with a few vocabulary words. (a few words came out in Russian and I had to offer the English equivalent)

And the bonus is that the lesson I planned can be saved for next time!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Happy Men's Day!!

Or more officially, Happy Defender of the Fatherland Day! The celebrating actually started on Friday with concerts, tv shows saluting soldiers and war movie marathons. The holiday is officially for those who served in the military, but, it is polite and customary to acknowledge all men on this day.

Yesterday was the Oscars!!

Russia had an animated short film entitled Lavatory-Lovestory nominated for an Oscar. You can read about it here:

I set my alarm to wake up at 4am and was able to see everything but the Red Carpet action! It was fun to watch one of my favorite American events here in Russia. In the four years we have lived here this was the first time we were able to see it. It was shown on Pervi Kanal (first channel) and was translated into Russian by a live voice over. Sometimes the English could be heard underneath. Reading about the show online is not nearly as satisfying as watching live on TV. However, to get my fix of celebrity news and find out who the winners and losers on the Red Carpet were, I did have to go online for that!

Friday, February 20, 2009

using up odds and ends

We put together a gift bag for one of our MOPS moms... this baby blanket was my contribution. Since it was made from leftover yarn from other projects all it cost me was time. I did most of the work while Tom and I watched the DVD's that Dad sent!

The mom who received it was so thrilled to have something handmade. I was thrilled to be able to shop for new yarn again... you know, as a reward for using up part of my stash!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sleeping Beauty

Last night the steering committee for our MOPS group went out to the ballet. Joy & her daughter Hannah, Lena & her daughter Ruth, Alyona & her daughter Dianna, Alla & her daughter Mia and me!! If Zhenya had been here in town I would not have been the only 'boy' mom there... but she is in America so I had to fend for myself among all the girls!

It was our coordinator Alla's birthday... she turned 28. Her saying her age didn't really phase me. It was when she said that she was born in 1981 that I realized how much older I am than her. I graduated highschool and got married in 1981!!

We had a great time and the girls, ages 4-11, were extremely well behaved all evening long!!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Thought for Today

My ultimate contentment does not depend on having things work out my way.
One Day at a Time in Al-Anon, pg. 49

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Gray Goose in Russia Cafe

Tom and I went out with Katya and Alexei on Valentine's Day to this new restaurant here in Krasnodar.

Gray Goose in Russia Cafe is the newest link in the chain of eating establishments owned and operated by Madyar.

The food met all of my expectations!! Pan-Asian cuisine is one of my favorites and the menu did not disappoint. There is a wide variety of choices on the menu, from sushi to salads and beyond.

Katya and I had the duck with cranberry sauce, served with poached pears and rice. The presentation of the food was definitely appealing to the eyes. Now normally, I would be able to tell you what everyone else ate as well but my plate had my entire attention! I kinda remember that tempura shrimp was ordered by Tom along with a shrimp ceasar salad. The wait staff was kind, attentive and very efficient.

We learned from experience last year on Valentine's Day that we needed reservations to get in on a holiday. Not wanting to get that "of course you need reservations look" it was decided that asking for a table ahead of time was a must. Katya ran into a bit of 'snootyness' when making the reservation. She asked if we could reserve a table and was immediately told no. Katya, unimpressed with this young lady's attitude, quickly responded with:
"young woman, you didn't even ask me what time!"
Hostess: "fine, what time?
Katya: "2 pm"
Hostess: "let me check"
Katya told me that 'a half an hour later' she was begrudgingly informed that we could have a table for four... But, ONLY on the first floor.

So we got in the cool new restaurant, ate the yummy food, and left the place wondering about what is going on up on second floor!!

Monday, February 16, 2009

English Language Helpers

Today Tom is headed out to Krasnodar's first English speaking AA meeting. His friend V asked him to help out with the format and getting the group off the ground. If you are an English speaker here in Krasnodar looking for an AA meeting let us know and we will get you directions!

I started off my day working with Elizaveta. Leeza, as she is affectionately called, is 9 years old. She and her family just recently moved here from the Moscow area and were disappointed to learn that there is not an English class at her elementary school. Her parents asked me to teach her a song in English, help her finish up her work book from her former school and correct her pronunciation when needed. She is a sweet little girl and we had a great time together. My favorite part of the lesson was her giving me a kiss and telling me how much she loves learning English!!

On Wednesday Tom will be coming to work with me because her 5 year old brother Mikhail (Misha) was extremely shocked that Tom didn't come over to play with him while I worked with his sister!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!!

I am baking heart shaped tea cakes for Tom's teaching session today! Valentine's Day is still a new holiday here mostly celebrated by the younger generation.

Tom and I will get a chance to go out for lunch with a young couple today after his teaching time. We have reservations at the Grey Goose, a Pan Asian Restaurant, here in the city.

We are hoping that it is similar to P.F. Chang's in America... we will let you know!!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Thought for Today

'Some of us act like sleep walkers even when we are awake, stumbling through life unaware of the relationship between our actions and their consequences. The danger day-sleepwalkers face is they miss opportunities for change and growth.'
Carleen Brice, author of Walk Tall:Affirmations for People of Color

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tom's new phone!

Tom has been a good saver and a real trooper. He is the only one in our family who still had his original cell phone from when we first moved here.

After saving money for months; from selling paintings, jewelry, counseling appointments and his birthday money we were able to get him a new phone. We had sale coupons for Mvideo, a local electronics store, and that truly helped to make the phone a reasonable price.

He is thrilled that he found a radio station that plays English music. Some of it has been disco music from the 70's... but it is still in English!!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Headache Weather

When there is a change in the barometric pressure everyone around us seems to be able to feel it. The most common way is through a headache. I have had a headache now for two days... it will be good when spring comes and the weather makes up it mind!!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Big Mama's Tea Cakes

Maybe some of you remember these from childhood? I certainly do! My grandmother used to make them. We cannot find her exact recipe so I have been scouring the internet looking at various recipes and experimenting to see which one comes close to the way she made them. I have found some that were drop cookies, some that had icing on them and some that used nutmeg and cinnamon.

My grandmother's were a cross between a biscuit and a sugar cookie. Her teacakes were a tasty treat for body and soul. They are also super easy to make!

1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs, slightly beaten
4 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt

First cream the butter and sugar together. Add eggs, flour, baking powder, vanilla and salt. Roll out on a floured board. Cut with cookie cutter, or like my grandma, use a glass. Place on greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle lightly with sugar and bake at 400 about 10-12 minutes. The teacakes will be golden brown on the bottom but soft inside!!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Thought for Today

Serenity isn't a matter of chance; it's a matter of choice.
from Hope For Today, pg 35
Al-Anon Family Groups

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Pirogi with fish!

I had dinner tonight with Avgusta. She is the mother of my friend and teammate Zhenya. Avgusta recently moved here from Siberia... so this winter is warm for her. She is used to -35 or lower!

Pirogi is like a pie with a bottom and top crust and some type filling. Avgusta made pirogi with a fish filling. Tom and Nathan are the fish lovers in our family. Not me. But, I am willing to try most anything.

The fish she used was sturgeon... it was a boneless fish, that didn't smell or taste fishy. She called it 'sea tongue". I came home and looked that phrase up and was relieved to find out that it was a reference to fish with no bones!

We began our time together eating dinner and watching a dating show on tv called "Let's Get Married". When the show ended we drank tea and chatted for a while to get to know each other better. I was shocked to find out that she is almost 70!! Her oldest grandchild is a year younger than my youngest son. However, we had no problems finding things to chat about! She really looks great, was fascinating to chat with and is extremely active. She even treated me to a reading of poetry she had written. I truly had a great time with her.

Tomorrow she is going to call me because we have a date to go the movies!

Monday, February 02, 2009

Part time job!!

Tonight was my second session teaching Business English at an employment agency. They are such eager and willing students... it is a joy to work with them. The financial crisis has us all tightening our belts so when this job opportunity came around I eagerly accepted it!!

Just as we were about to start going over the article they were assigned to read entitled "How Not to Sound Like a Fool" one of the women raised her hand to ask me a question.

"Is it acceptable to ask questions about your presidents?"

I told her I was willing to answer any questions and would not be offended. She swallowed hard and said:

"George Bush makes lots of grammatical mistakes doesn't he?" She immediately covered her mouth and looked down.

I told her that he has made his share of blunders and she compared him to a former prime minister here in Russia. His name is Victor Chernomyrdin. She said his Russian grammar is horrible and he frequently said things that were just not quite right.

The former president's mistakes were not part of my original lesson plan but we will discuss a few of them next week during the warm up time at the beginning of class. I need to get on line to find some of Victor Chernomyrdin's as well... next week should be an interesting lesson.